‘For the sake of Honour’ for Anbumani Ramadoss

Special Correspondent

The Rotary Club of Madras recognises his work in areas of tobacco control and rural healthcare

He would like to be remembered for National Rural Health Mission

Calls for reducing dependence on cigarettes, alcohol, drugs and junk food

CHENNAI: Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare Anbumani Ramadoss has been awarded the Rotary Club’s most prestigious award in recognition of his contribution to tobacco control and rural healthcare.

“Out of the [Forbes-listed] 10 richest people in the world, 4 are from India. But there is another side to India. In the UNDP Human Development Index, India is rated 128 out of 177 countries… That is why we need to focus on health,” Dr. Ramadoss said, accepting the ‘For the sake of Honour’ Award from the Rotary Club of Madras, Vadapalani, on Saturday.

If there is one thing he would like to be remembered for, it is the National Rural Health Mission, which he said was in his blood. The National Rural Health Mission had been hailed by noted economist and author of ‘The End of Poverty’ Jeffrey Sachs as the fastest expanding public healthcare programme in the world and a model for developing countries to replicate, he said. But it had not been recognised at a national level until now, he added.

He stressed the importance of reducing the dependence of the nation on cigarettes, alcohol, drugs and junk food to prevent the rise of diabetes, heart disease, mental illness and cancer. While India had the best anti-tobacco laws in the world, these remained on paper. While article 47 of India’s Constitution asked States to endeavour to bring about prohibition of alcohol, only Gujarat adhered to it, he said.

Noted gynaecologist B. Palaniappan thanked the Minister for his work in tobacco control outlining the dangers of tobacco addiction. Tobacco caused high blood pressure, infertility, and led to early death — one in every 10 adults worldwide died as a result of tobacco use.

Writer and social activist Sivasankari said all the 62 personal accounts of drug dependency she had heard of had started with cigarettes. Expressing concern at the rise in alcohol abuse, she said there was little understanding of the concept of social drinking. A survey of three slums in Chennai showed 60 per cent of men drank regularly. Fines, she said, were the best way to inculcate behavioural changes.